Washington, DC, November 08, 2023 The storied town hall of Salamis served as the grand backdrop on October 29, 2023, when the Alexander the Great and Vergina Gold Medal and Diploma were bestowed upon the Albanian-born American poet Gjekë Marinaj. Celebrating its 39th year, the award recognized Marinaj’s profound impact on the literary world.
Within the Salamis town hall’s venerable walls, Marinaj stood among eleven global luminaries and seven esteemed Greeks, each acknowledged for their remarkable achievements across the realms of science, culture, literature, arts and society. The honors were conferred under the auspices of the UNESCO Piraeus and Islands Group, with the “Cafe of Ideas” International Cultural Organization — a beacon for the cultivation of spirit and art — orchestrating the ceremony.
The recognition of Marinaj was twofold: a celebration of his literary contributions and an acknowledgment of his role as a proactive, innovative figure in the literary domain he serves.
Hailing Marinaj’s global influence, Prof. Dinos S. Koubatis, the event’s director and the chairman of the selection committee, noted, “In the field and evolution of letters, Gjekë Marinaj is a pivotal presence, whose efforts continually enhance the World Spirit.”
The award ceremony, enlivened by an enthusiastic audience, commenced with opening remarks from Mr. Nestoras Dedes, the External Public Relations Officer of the “Cafe of Ideas.” Prof. Koumbatis, who also serves as the organization’s president, initiated the award presentation alongside actor Christos Nikiteas, who narrated the awardees’ life stories. The proceedings were graced by the attendance of Mrs. Haroula Mailinda Lekka.
The Municipality of Salamina expressed its commendation through several representatives: municipal councilors Mrs. Yvoni Aravani and Mr. Manos Dertouzos, and the Deputy Mayor for Culture, Mrs. Tina Begni. Distinguished international guests also attended, including Mr. Fitim Glareva, head of the Kosovo Interests Office in Athens.
In his acceptance speech, Marinaj expressed heartfelt gratitude for the tireless efforts of the organizers of the ceremonies.
Addressing the “esteemed members of the ‘Cafe of Ideas,’ distinguished guests, and fellow lovers of literature,” Marinaj remarked, “I am profoundly honored to stand before you on this illustrious occasion, the 39th Annual Alexander the Great and Vergina Gold Medal Ceremony. This recognition, graciously bestowed under the auspices of the UNESCO Piraeus and Islands Group, fills me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and humility.
“The odyssey of my academic pursuits commenced in the verdant fields of Greek literature, an exploration initiated in the nascent phase of my education and diligently pursued through to the zenith of my academic endeavors. My engagement with the Hellenic corpus was not merely an academic requirement but a passionate indulgence in its opulence of thought and depth of wisdom. I believed, and still hold this to be true, that the profound narratives and philosophical discourses enshrined within Greek literature furnish us with the fortitude and sagacity to navigate the labyrinth of life’s challenges with valor and finesse.
“As a pedagogue, I have had the privilege of disseminating the treasures of Greek literature to inquisitive minds, a task that I have undertaken with fervor and a profound sense of responsibility. It was a means to satiate the sophist within me, seeking not just to educate but to inspire a dialogue that transcends the confines of classrooms and echoes in the intellectual realms our students will venture into.
“The thought of my literary contributions earning the distinction of the Alexander the Great and Vergina Gold Medal was a possibility that seemed as distant as the constellations that once guided ancient mariners in these Aegean waters. Yet today, in the embrace of this historic island of Salamina, I am profoundly moved that such an honor has been accorded to my works by the eminent ‘Cafe of Ideas’ and the revered entity of UNESCO.
“I extend my sincerest appreciation to all those whose labor and dedication make such moments of recognition possible. As I prepare to depart from Salamina, I do so with a heart that is fuller, a spirit more reflective, and a commitment to literature ever more steadfast. May we all continue to be ambassadors of the literary arts, fostering the legacy of the great minds that have indelibly shaped our world.
“I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this extraordinary accolade.”
Focusing on cultural unity and the enduring power of the written word, the message imparted by Marinaj resonated with the Alexander the Great and Vergina awards’ universal meaning.